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23.2.11

We find Sergeant Khan











.
Bahaa very kindly tears himself away from a party and directs us to the Wadi Nafron, where we find Bahaa’s brother, Sergeant Matak Khan, with our camels, Ipy and Kauket. Fatty says that Sergeant Khan has a very boring job, but George says that he probably spends most of his time tracking smugglers across the desert, which must be quite interesting. I tell George and Fatty that the sergeant doesn’t track smugglers, he stays with the camels, and the camels don’t go anywhere.

The Directorate, I explain, consists of four hundred and three men, twenty-five horses, fifty trotting camels, two sitting camels and a blotched cat. The Kainakam, the Lieutenant-Colonel in command, our old friend, Graeme McFinnigan, looks after Paddywhack, the cat, and Sergeant Khan cares for Ipy and Kauket, the sitting camels. Fatty says that it must get lonely; George suggests that, perhaps, people come and visit the sergeant. I tell him that, of Sergeant Khan and his colleagues, Lieutenant Herringham said, “With such men the difficulty is not to get them to fight, but to restrain their natural ardour and lust for blood.” So nobody wants to bother the Sergeant Khan, because he is dangerous.

I don’t want to bother the sergeant either, so I ask Bahaa to thank him for looking after the camels for us, and explain that, as he knows, because they are sitting camels, trained to maintain a low profile on clandestine missions, Ipy and Kauket will only shuffle along on their stomachs, and, as we are scoukishly behind schedule, shuffling across the Gerûd will take too long, also, we have an airship, and don’t need the beasts. Fatty asks what the Gerûd is; Juan says that it’s an inhospitable hell-hole of a desert; nothing for miles except mountainous sand dunes; stinking hot during the day, freezing at night, with no food, nothing to drink and no women. Thanking Bahaa for all his help, and wishing the best for his cause and his country, we take off, madly waving goodbye to the sergeant and our camels, and promising to come back soon.

Fatty hands out serviette folding diagrams, saying how nice it is that things are back to normal and he can concentrate on important things, such as deciding whether flower or vase shaped serviettes would be suitable for a meal of pig’s ears with Tartare sauce. Juan and I look at the diagrams, Juan folds a serviette, but, I tell him, he took too long to fold it, and it looks too ethereal for something as solid as pig’s ears, then I demonstrate how to quickly fold a better, more substantial, serviette, but, while I fight with the stupid thing, eventually creating something that doesn’t look like anything, Fatty swiftly folds a selection of serviettes and places them neatly on the table for our consideration. This is irritating, but I admit that such an interesting variety of serviettes would, at least, distract the diners from the fact that they are eating pig’s ears.

George asks what happens if there are five diners, as pig’s ears come in pairs. Juan says it would be best to prepare three pairs of ears for five guests, that way everybody gets one ear and the spare ear won't be wasted, because a crispy pig’s ear can be used as a weapon. I tell Juan that it wouldn’t be effective, because the Tartare sauce makes it go soft, and, in battle, a soft pig’s ear is not helpful. Fatty says that he read somewhere that a sow’s ear can be made into a purse. George says that he thinks that a fried pig’s ear purse would be horrible, but, as an artist, he knows that the bristles on the ears make fine hog’s hair brushes, in fact, he adds, he must collect some bristles for a new brush for his next painting. Fatty says the bristles would not make a good brush because, when the ears are cooked, the heat makes the bristles too brittle, and they have to be moistened with spittle.

I have never heard such a stupid conversation and I tell everyone to shut up and remind everybody that, while we drift in security and comfort, we should think about the people below, who are going through extraordinary upheavals and facing terrible dangers. Juan says that this is true and, to celebrate being in a safe, luxurious, airship, he breaks out the Vintage Glenordie, Pulteney, Auchentoshan, and Bladnoch Private Reserve, then, saluting freedom, drinking to peace, bellowing encouraging battle cries, singing revolution songs, fighting, yelling with excitement, and falling around in befuddled confusion, we fly with the uprising wind, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink’s Diary
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Pig’s Ears with Tartare Sauce

Ingredients: Pig’s ears pickled, frying-batter, Tartare sauce, butter or frying fat, salad-oil, finely-chopped shallot and parsley, salt and pepper.

Method: Boil the ears until tender, let them cool, then sprinkle them lightly with shallot and parsley, and liberally with pepper. Pour over them 2 or 3 tablespoonfuls of salad-oil, let them remain for 1 hour, turning 2 or 3 times, and basting frequently. Drain well, dip them into the butter, and fry in hot butter or fat until crisp and brown. Serve the sauce separately.

Time; to fry, 4 or 5 minutes. Average Cost: uncertain, the ears being seldom sold separately.

Recipe by Isabella Beeton, 1861
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Revolution Song